As you may know, for the past year I’ve been working on a major new book provisionally titled Getting High. It’s ostensibly a history of the long quest for flight, and uses the lens of the 1960s to examine how we have used drugs, religion and technology to achieve this goal.
It’s been enormous fun to write, and I’m really really pleased with how things have turned out. I sent a draft to some trusted friends, who have all kindly said it’s the best thing I’ve written. I’ve also had some really positive feedback from a couple of major publishers, which is great too.
A meeting with a fantastic literary agent a couple of weeks ago confirmed a hunch I’d had about the manuscript, but tried to ignore. She loved what I’d done, but suspected that there was a more personal story in all of this that was not yet fully excavated. She was right. I’ve often advised people to ‘write to discover, not to reveal,’ and this has never been more true than in the process of creating this piece of work. It’s been a huge journey of discovery – not just about a fascinating period of history, but about myself too.
The last couple of books I’ve put out – Mutiny and After Magic – have both suffered, in my opinion, from me being a little impatient. What with the work I do teaching full time, opportunities to write are at a premium, so I’ve too often rushed to get things out rather than take the time to allow the manuscript to fully mature.
It was great to have someone else put their finger on that. It’s so tempting to try to ignore that small voice inside yourself that is quietly urging you to work things through again, but I’ve learned that in the long run it’s never worth it.
While I could definitely put the book out tomorrow and be pleased with it, it’s a massively important work for me, and I want to get it exactly right. Hence, I’m going to be diving back down into it again in a pretty fundamental way. That’s going to take a few months at least, may be longer. I don’t think Amazon’s stock value is going to plummet too far at this news – especially with Tad and Pete having great books out to feast on – but people have been asking where things are at, and I wanted to give a bit of an update.
Any creative work worth its salt is a risk. Throwing a bunch more time and hard work at this piece is a punt, but it’s one that I feel I need to take. The ideas are one thing, but I also care a great deal about the literary form, about the quality of the writing, about the narrative and the craft. I’m very excited about the new structure, and am putting as much time into it as I can grab amidst two kids, a full teaching load and the occasional night’s sleep.
So… here we go… a couple of book reviews I’m working on, but there’ll generally be less blogging, less social media… thanks for the continued support for my work, and see you on the other side. Fingers crossed it’ll be worth it.
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